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From tea to cakes

She played around with apples and ice cream and added crumble for crunch, and thus, her Frozen Apple Crumble Cake was born. It was even better than her frozen Brazo and friends started ordering again.

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Some 15 years ago, Gina Ng-Young started making frozen Brazo de Mercedes. It turned out to be so good that friends started ordering. But then again, a lot of people were making it that it became such a huge trend. To distinguish her frozen Brazo from the rest, Gina thought of introducing something different to the dessert cake. She played around with apples and ice cream and added crumble for crunch, and thus, her Frozen Apple Crumble Cake was born. It was even better than her frozen Brazo and friends started ordering again.

She could have built a business around her Frozen Apple Crumble, but she hesitated. She was busy taking care of her two boys, Kenzo Martin and Kenji Markus, and at the same time working as executive assistant vice president (EAVP) for sales and marketing in her husband Kurt Young’s family business, Gilamar Enterprises Inc. Kurt’s dad put up Gilamar initially to distribute imported brands of tea but eventually built their own brand, which is Gold Leaf Tea. Members of the family, including Kurt and Gina, worked together to make the company successful, and so, work combined with mommy duties left Gina with very little time to spare. The cake business had to take a backseat.

Classic Burnt Cheesecake. / Photographs by Dolly Dy-Zulueta for the DAILY TRIBUNE

Fast forward to the Luzon lockdown, or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), that took place in March this year which forced everyone to stay home. Left with a lot of time and nothing to do, Gina began cooking a lot. It also gave her the opportunity to bake again, and one of the first things she made was her Frozen Apple Crumble. But then, things have changed and so were the circumstances of the lockdown. She found it difficult to get hold of the ice cream that she liked to use on her best-selling dessert, so she decided to make her own ice cream. She likewise dipped he fingers into the food fads during the ECQ and made Basque burnt cheesecake and well, yes, dalgona coffee but in cheesecake and ice cream forms. Her successful kitchen experiments led her to also develop blueberry ice cream and peaches and cream ice cream.

Gina Ng-Young in her kitchen with her cakes in can.

With all these dessert gems on her hands, Gina finally decided to launch her products and make them available not just to family and friends but also to other dessert lovers. She put up her own online and home-based business, naming it after her two sons by taking their second names, Martin and Markus, and spinning them into the witty Martin Markus Gourmet Treats brand. She has three cakes and three premium ice cream flavors under the brand — Classic Burnt Cheesecake, Dalgona Coffee Cheesecake and Frozen Apple Crumble, each priced at P799; and blueberry ice cream, peaches and cream ice cream, and dalgona coffee ice cream, each selling for P399.

Blueberry ice cream. / Photograph courtesy of Martin Markus Gourmet Treat

“I developed these products by playing around with ingredients and getting inspiration from what I have read and watched. That was actually how I really learned to cook. I literally watched my mom as she cooked, thus learning to cook at a really young age. My mom and I would also watch the cooking show of the late Nora Daza and, later on, of Sandy and Nina. That was our bonding time,” says Gina, who personally makes all her cakes and ice cream, packaging them all in trendy cans that at the same time make her cakes and ice cream easier to handle and transport.

Orders are coursed through +63 917-8550600 and +63 922-8436600, with payment made via GCash, BDO or Metrobank Online. Customers may pick up their orders in Santa Mesa, Manila, or arrange delivery via courier (delivery fee care of customers).

Frozen Apple Crumble.

With a nice, start-up business that is doing fine, Gina is, however, not done yet. Good not only with desserts, she likes whipping up savory dishes, too. She is developing some yummy finger foods, which she will sell in sets for DIY (do-it-yourself) assembly at home by customers. Incidentally, food sets or kits also happen to be a recent food trend brought about by the community quarantine.

Restaurants, which were initially not allowed to offer dine-in, put together such food kits for delivery, and customers enjoyed the experience of assembling them and enjoying restaurant-style food at home. They still do — which is why restaurants continue to offer them for takeout and delivery.

Gina’s savory offerings should be something to look forward to. I have been given a sneak peek into what’s on the menu, but I am not telling. For now. So let’s do it backward for the meantime — sip some tea, enjoy your dessert, then have some savory bites.

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